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Skidmore College



John J.P. Howley '80

Location: Residences in New Jersey, Florida, and the Philippines. Primary office is in New York, although I frequently work out of my law firm's other offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Frankfurt, Washington, D.C., West Palm Beach, Chicago and Los Angeles. Further Education: One semester of an M.A. program at Columbia University (decided graduate school was not for me) followed by a J.D. degree from New York Law School. Career Title: Partner, Kaye Scholer LLP (an international law firm with approximately 500 lawyers). Career Description: International dispute resolution. I represent clients, mostly large corporations, in the resolution of complex disputes through litigation, arbitration and negotiation. Recent cases have included product distribution agreements in Kuwait and Lebanon, insurance coverage for an oil refinery explosion in Venezuela, repossessing jumbo jets in the Philippines, and patent licenses in the European Union. How History Degree is Still Relevant: I hope that studying history (which continues, to this day, with passion) has made me a more interesting human being, perhaps better able to communicate and make connections with U.S. and foreign clients, adversaries, judges and arbitrators. Particularly with those from another culture, a common knowledge of history helps us understand that today's disputes are often variations of disputes that have come before, and that so much of what happens in our cases is affected by the context of history, economics, religion, politics and other factors. I recently worked on a patent infringement dispute with the President of a biotechnology company. He has B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry and biology, plus an M.B.A. from MIT. Over lunch, however, we discussed relations between Japan and China since 1930. He was born and raised in India, and is currently reading everything he can on China-Japan relations in the 20th century in an effort to understand China and its relations with other nations -- especially former adversaries -- now that it is attempting to have better relations with India. "What can I do with a history degree?" : I hate that question. You can do anything with a history degree. Most of the successful lawyers, political leaders and business leaders I know have liberal arts degrees -- English, Chemistry, History, Biology, Political Science, Music (more lawyers are musicians than you would ever guess), Philosophy, Economics and Physics. (OK, there is one exception. One friend, a former President of the Philippines, has an engineering degree. But he also studied Military History at West Point). The key to their success is not particular business or practical skills acquired as an undergraduate, but a curiosity, an understanding of perspective, and a lifelong desire to learn more about the world we live in.

Margaret Simpson Barlow '81

Yes I was a history major - unfortunately I am not teaching the subject, nor am I in the field! Rather, I am in publishing sales. However, throughout my career in sales, recruiting and counseling, I do a lot of research on companies, industries, etc. My research skills I attribute mainly to my history degree, for which I had to write a lot of papers. I continue to gravitate toward literature of a historic nature and watch the history channel. I also worked as a sales rep for "American Heritage" for 5 years.

Chuck Kaufman '82

Newton, MA
MBA, Babson College, Dec. 1986
President, The Kaufman Group, a PR firm specializing in financial services and technology. My history degree comes into play in my work and life every day. My Skidmore experience in general and history education specifically helped to shape how I look at a problem or issue critically from different perspectives. It's a skill I'm attempting to teach my three children. They're beginning to understand that examining something from different angles can often uncover not merely a "right" answer, but several correct answers. Also, my four years as a Skidmore history major helped hone my written and verbal communications skills. Professors like Tad Kuroda and Pat Lee expected more than yes or no answers. They challenged us to push ourselves and the "certainties" of our lives and studies. I learned a valuable lesson from that: It's ok to try new things and to communicate different thoughts and conclusions. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. More often than we think, the true value is in the trying.

Robert Chwasky '84

I live in Wilmington, MA; after Skidmore graduated from Cardozo Law School in '93; presently Agent for New York Life Insurance Company in Waltham, MA. History doesn't really come into place in work, but I like Skidmore

Catey Heller Terry, '84

Columbia, MO
Finishing up Masters Degree in Journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism. Director of Development - mostly major gift work and stewardship in the midst of a capital campaign. It's hard to say exactly how I use my history degree daily. I'd say it's more like I use my college degree daily, being a relatively intelligent, inquisitive person. No disrespect to the degree meant, it's just that I probably use my writing, researching, and analytical thinking skills more than any specific facts that I learned in history classes, although I do remember a lot. I also found the class work part of graduate school to be relatively easy (at a place that is tops in its field and that I feel passionately about, as I do about Skidmore). I attribute that to the way Skidmore taught me to work hard and be prepared.

Jed Garfield '85

New York City(Manhattan), Master of International Affairs(MIA) Columbia University '91. Not sure how the degree helps but it certainly makes me a well rounded individual.

Tim Smith '85

I live in Woodbury CT I was often confronted with the "what are you going to do with a history major" question as an undergraduate, and my first response and employment was teaching. I graduated from Skidmore and the following fall took a position as a history teacher at a small boarding school in Massachusetts. While I loved the teaching I did not enjoy the life of a boarding school teacher (especially at the age of 22) as it is rather limiting. With the pursuit of teaching in mind I went back to school to get a MAT (Master's of Arts in Teaching) which is a fancy term to say I took education courses to get my teaching certificate. The most ironic thing about the whole ordeal is that once I got all of my credentials I could not for the life of me find a teaching job. I substitute taught for several years but could not find any steady work. While I was perusing my goal I made a living though a variety of different jobs and it was though one of these that I found my current line of work. Over ten years ago I started working for Whole Foods Market part time nights so that I could substitute during the day. It was there that I came across the world of specialty cheese which has become one of my life's passions. From a part-time store clerk I have moved around in the cheese business to where I am currently the Director of Specialty Cheese for Anco Fine Cheese one of the country's leading importers and distributors. The bulk of my responsibilities focus on sales and marketing to the gourmet trade on the Eastern Seaboard, with some product procurement. In my line of work I often use my history skills, believe it or not. Gourmet food retailers tend to be very food knowledgeable and they want as much information about any given product at they can find. In the case of cheeses that can lead into discussions of the Middle Ages (there is a whole series of cheeses called Monastic Cheeses as they were developed by monastic orders); World Wars I & II and its effects on agriculture in Europe and industrial modernization; or modern economic policy as it relates to importation tariffs and GATT (for example goat cheese quotas were never established as it was not considered a threat to American producers at the time, cow's milk cheeses were and are included). While I may be the extreme case for a History major, I do feel that a History degree can provide a student with is the following: The ability to research a topic and to find sources for an answer. I am continually amazed at how many people in the business world have no idea of how to find anything other than the keys to their car. History teaches one to dig for an answer. This is crucial in all aspects of life including business. To express a thought clearly. As a History major you have to sift though data and sources and draw a conclusion and express it clearly. This is essential in business, especially in sales. Sales is actually tailor made for a History major as you are required to give people the broad picture of something while also expected to have the knowledge of the specific details when necessary. The ability to look at the connections of any given thing. A good History student will see things as interconnected rather than a series of isolated events and this is another key skill that is required in business or any other endeavor.

Lukas Horn '86

I was a Special Agent w/ U.S. Dept. Justice DEA. I was with DEA 8 YEARS. I could have also gone with the FBI. Now I am a Director at Greylock. I think students should know that History is a great major. Tell them that anyspecialized field will require a grad degree in that field. ( Mine was a M.A. in forensic phyc.)

Jody Rose Platt '86

I currently live in Washington, DC.  I have a doctorate in international relations.  I work at the U.S. Department of State as the Senior Program Officer on the Political Security Team. I work with our embassies overseas and various offices here to develop programs to help support our public diplomacy goals.  We work with American scholars, diplomats, and people in the private sector as well as the public sector to help our embassies explain various aspects of U.S. foreign  policy and to hear what foreign audience are thinking - to exchange in a dialogue. My degree is helpful in a couple of ways.  First, having an understanding of history is important when dealing with public diplomacy.  Knowing and understanding the past goes a long way to help in dealing with the present and the future.  It also shows a willingness to learn about others which is a positive.  Secondly, studying history has taught me skills including looking at things from more than one point of view.  This will be helpful in any job, but is particularly useful in my current position. 

Karen Fritz '87

Location: Texas Post-Skidmore education: - Master's Degree in American History - University of Virginia (1988). Ph.D. in history - Louisiana State University (1995). Career title: Associate Professor of History, The Victoria College, Victoria, Texas. History degree in life: As an undergraduate, I already knew I wanted to be a professor, so I never really considered what a B.A. or M.A. degree in history could do for me outside of the teaching field. Over the years, however, I found both quite useful in winning other types of employment. My degrees enabled me to become a tour guide at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in 1989. I ended up working in that house for a year. While I was finishing my doctorate, my degrees also helped me land consultant jobs with an archeological firm in Louisiana, become a teacher in a Louisiana adult education program, and obtain speaking engagements. Now, having advanced degrees opens doors in publishing.

Gretchen Mullins Kim '88

Graduation May 1988, location Westchester County, additional education, J.D. Vanderbilt University May 1992. Career, Attorney - my own law practice, specializing in matrimonial and family law. My history degree helps me everyday because I learned how to think critically in my history classes. Because of the small class sizes and the intense class participation, I also received an excellent education on how to write well and to communicate clearly and effectively my thoughts. (Professor Brynteson was the first person to point out to me how often I relied upon passive voice in my writing. He also told me - you should be a lawyer because they use the passive voice like you! (Well, I guess I got my first indication of my future career when I was a history major!)

Peter Meyerson '88

I was a history and philosophy major with a concentration in psychology (really a 3rd major). After Skidmore I got an M.S. in social studies secondary education from the University of Pennsylvania (in August of 1990). Following that I went on to get a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Madison (in May of 1997). From 1997-2000 I did a post doc at the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University. Currently I am working for the 4th year as an assistant professor in the Educational Foundations Department at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I currently teach Educational Psychology courses to future k-12 teachers. My current research interests center on the topics of scaffolding students identity development and critical literacy skills in the context of the k-12 history/social studies classroom.

Class of 1989

Live in New York, Equity Trader Managing Director. No further education. A history degree provides you with a depth of knowledge. Sometimes knowing a little about a lot of things is more beneficial than knowing a lot about a few.

Matthew G. Berger '89

Double major, History & Govt, further education, M.A. U.S. History, Rutgers University, 1991 J.D. Northeastern University School of Law, 1995. I am a lawyer working in my hometown of New London CT and living in Pawcatuck CT. I am a sole practitioner/solo/self-employed, where I have a general practice, with a specialization in commercial litigation, land use and criminal defense. From 1998-2001 I was on the Board of Directors of the New London County Historical Society. I am currently finishing an article on CT's first woman lawyer, Mary Hall (she was admitted to practice in 1882) and the skills I learned while at Skidmore, particularly in classes taught by Professors Kuroda, Kifer, Brynteson and Gordon (he was a visiting professor) have come in handy as I have gone to various archives and libraries to research the paper. In addition, a history major is excellent training for a lawyer, as so much of the practice involves researching either old cases, old records or old deeds/land records. In addition I continue to enjoy reading history in my spare time. I am also on the Board of the New London County Bar Association and the Town of Stonington School Building Committee and Town of Stonington Inland Wetlands Committee, and am married (not sure how any of these relate to history). The research skills, and the appreciation and understanding of the past that come from a history major have proved invaluable in my career.

Eric Rath '89

I graduated from Skidmore in 1989 and then entered the History Department at the University of Michigan where I received an MA and Ph.D in Premodern Japanese History. After spending a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute at Harvard University, I received a tenure track appointment in the History Department at the University of Kansas. This is my fifth year at the University of Kansas where I am currently serving as the Director of Graduate Studies for the History Department. My book The Ethos of Noh: Actors and Their Art is scheduled for publication by Harvard University Asia Center Press in 2004. Other publications and information is available at: I guess you can say that I am using my history degree....By the way, if anyone is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in history, I am happy to speak with them.